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BOCAS DEL TORO :: BOQUETE :: GAMBOA RAINFOREST :: PACIFIC COAST :: PANAMA CITY :: SAN BLAS ISLANDS
Ecotourism and natural environments define Bocas del Toro, a Caribbean archipelago with lush rainforests, lowland forests, coral reefs in crystal-clear waters, abundant flora and fauna, mangroves, lagoons, and sunny beaches. Life here is calm, and the people are friendly and exude warmth. Activities include scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, bird watching, rainforest trekking, and relaxing on the beach. There are also indigenous Indian communities, where visitors can meet the locals and purchase handicrafts.
Known as the "Valley of the Flowers and Eternal Spring," Boquete is a small town on the Caldera River near the Costa Rica border. With a comfortable year-round climate, Boquete is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts looking to hike, take a zipline tour through the cloud forest's canopy, go horseback riding, and more. Birders love it here, as there are diverse habitats and hundreds of species of birds, including the rare resplendent quetzal. Boquete's coffee ranks among the best in the world, and coffee plantation tours are available. Baru Volcano, the tallest point in Panama, is nearby.
Located 30 minutes from Panama City, Gamboa Rainforest Resort is within Soberania National Park on the banks of the Chagres River and Panama Canal—an oasis away from the city. Activities include monkey tours to find hidden islands where capuchin and howler monkeys can be seen in the trees; bird-watching tours that go to an area with a documented bird list of more than 400 species; and aerial tram rides to see the rainforest from above—the way the monkeys and birds do. Other activities include kayaking the waters of the Panama Canal, resting by the hotel's pool, or relaxing in the spa.
Within a short drive from Panama City are a series of beaches along the Pacific Coast. Nestled between lush tropical forests and white-sand beaches, this area is a popular place for vacationers as well as wealthy Panamanians looking for a weekend retreat. Adventure-seekers have an opportunity to kayak in the sapphire-blue waters of the Pacific, go white-water rafting, surf, or dive. For those who want to just relax and take it easy, the all-inclusive resorts give guests the opportunity to unwind by the pool or rejuvenate at the spa.
Located between the Pacific Ocean and tropical rainforest, Panama City was built in 1519 by Pedro Arias de Avila, a Spanish conquistador who made it his base for plundering Peru's riches. Today, Panama offers diverse natural wonders, a melting-pot of ethnicities and cultures, and historical as well as modern cityscapes. Of particular interest is Casco Antiguo, the oldest sector of modern Panama—with its restored colonial buildings, 17th century churches, and historical monuments. Of course, the Panama Canal, one of the most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, is also a popular attraction.
The San Blas Islands, known locally as Kuna Yala, encompass over 365 islands governed by the Kuna Indians. Although the San Blas Islands are a popular place for visitors, the Kuna Indians have preserved their simple ways, culture, economy, language, and customs—demonstrating how an indigenous culture can survive surrounded by the modern world. The islands themselves offer spectacular reefs, turquoise waters, white-sand beaches, and native Kuna villages. Activities include snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, interacting with and learning about the Kuna Indians, or just relaxing on the beautiful beaches.
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